In the face of Covid-19 and the widespread implementation of remote working, online meetings have become the norm and are now part of many employees’ daily lives. This is reflected in the figures: in the aftermath of the health crisis, the videoconferencing platform BlueJeans recorded an increase of 100% to 300% of videoconferencing in under two months1. Here, we outline our top tips for successful virtual meetings.
Choose a relevant, effective tool
Trello, Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts - there are numerous tools available for online meetings. However, it is important to choose the right one. It must be appropriate for the size of the company, its business activities, the number of participants, and the resources you have available, such as internet connection. A web conference may be the best solution, as you simply send a URL link to the participants so they can connect and join the meeting. You can also organise meetings through your internal chat system by making a group call. Be careful, however, as this option is better suited to meetings with only a few participants as the options are restricted.
Choose a suitable location
Whether you hold the meeting from your office or home, choose a quiet area to minimise background noise. Ensure that your background is as neutral as possible during the videoconference. An untidy or cluttered location can distract participants. Some platforms also offer backgrounds that hide or blur your surroundings. You should also avoid dark or bright lighting as both are distracting for meeting attendees.
Prepare for the meeting
When you set up a meeting, always come prepared with a framework of topics to be discussed in order to keep the meeting's objectives in mind. This rule applies to both face-to-face and remote meetings. This requires organisation and planning ahead. Prepare an outline, agenda, and list of points to raise to provide clarity while keeping you on topic. Test your equipment beforehand as well as the platform on which you intend to hold the meeting. Check your sound, microphone and screen sharing options.
Have a backup plan
In the event of problems or technical issues (such as patchy internet connection, a defective webcam, or problems with screen sharing), we recommend having a second person standing by who can take over the meeting in your place, so there is no need for you to postpone. Another possibility is to continue the meeting by phone. If network issues prevent you from finishing your presentation, send it via email along with a summary or minutes to ensure that your staff receive all the necessary information.
Demonstrate soft skills
Just like a face-to-face meeting, there are certain rules that should be complied with during virtual communication. Even if you are working from home, wear suitable attire for a video conference. Punctuality is also very important and you should log in to the meeting a few minutes before it starts. Look at the camera and avoid doing something else at the same time, such as checking your emails, or looking at your phone. It is not always easy to know when you should speak during remote meetings. Wait for clear pauses in the conversation to make your contribution or continue your presentation after answering a question. Speak clearly into your microphone without placing it too close to your mouth. When your colleagues are speaking, activate the mute function to avoid interference.
Send a report or minutes
Just like face-to-face meetings, think about what happens following an online meeting. Once everyone has logged out, they return to their work without being able to debrief or react over a coffee. Therefore, it is useful to prepare a full document summarising all points raised during the meeting. This meeting summary or minutes will provide your employees with a written record if they forget or need to clarify anything. This document, that you can send via email or add to your internal database, can then be consulted by your staff at any time.
Further reading: Health crisis: a context that transforms the reflexes required for remote management